News

Stuart Russell and all things "Slaughterbot"

CS Prof. Stuart Russell is featured in an interview by the "Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists" titledAs much death as you want”: UC Berkeley's Stuart Russell on “Slaughterbots.  Russell discusses the genesis of the hit YouTube video, the technology that goes into lethal autonomous weapons, and some of the difficulties involved in controlling their proliferation.

Ben Recht wins NIPS Test of Time Award

Prof. Ben Recht has won the Neural Information Processing System (NIPS) 2017 Test of Time Award for a paper he co-wrote with Ali Rahimi in 2007 titled "Random Features for Large-Scale Kernel Machines."   Deep learning, which involves stacking many neural networks on top of one another to learn the features of giant databases and develop clever algorithms, is being used to carry out more and more tasks in an expanding number of areas.  In their acceptance speech at the NIPS conference, Recht and Rahimi posited that more theory is needed to understand the state-of-the-art empirical performance of deep learning, and called for simple theorems and simple, easily reproducible experiments.  "We are building systems that govern healthcare and mediate our civic dialogue, we influence elections," said Rahimi. "I would like to live in a society where systems are built on top of verifiable, rigorous thorough knowledge and not alchemy."

Four EECS undergraduate researchers recognized by CRA

All four EECS students nominated for this year's Computing Research Association (CRA) Undergraduate Researcher Award were recognized by the selection committee.  Senior CS/Math major Garrett Thomas (nominated by Pieter Abbeel) and EECS junior Peter Manohar (nominated by Alessandro Chiesa) were named as finalists.  Senior CS major Siqi Liu (nominated by Sanjam Garg) and CS/Statistics/Math senior Tianhe Yu (nominated by Sergey Levine and Pieter Abbeel) merited honorable mentions.  This award program recognizes undergraduate students in North American universities who show outstanding research potential in an area of computing research.

Ming Lin Named Chair of UMD Department of Computer Science

EECS alumna Ming C. Lin (B.S./M.S./Ph.D. '86-'93) has been named Chair of the Department of Computer Science at the University of Maryland (UMD).  Lin,  a noted educator and expert in virtual reality, computer graphics and robotics, will assume the role of Elizabeth Stevinson Iribe Chair of Computer Science with a joint appointment in the University of Maryland Institute for Advanced Computer Studies (UMIACS). The department includes more than 50 tenured or tenure-track faculty members and 11 full-time professional track instructional faculty members. “One of my primary goals is to ensure that our students will be successful in their careers when they graduate,” Lin said. “They are going to be the leaders in a society where practically every aspect of daily life is enabled and impacted by computing. Giving them the knowledge and skills to excel in a technology-empowered world is a mission I take very seriously.”

Claire Tomlin and Kris Pister win Berkeley Outstanding Advising Faculty Awards

EE Profs. Claire Tomlin and Kristofer Pister have won Outstanding Advising Faculty Awards from Berkeley Advising Matters.  These awards are presented to administrators, directors, managers, faculty advisors or deans who are making a significant positive impact on the students and programs they support.  The selection criteria includes "advising excellence and creativity consistent with the Berkeley vision for advising in that they promote student learning, performance, achievement, progress and success, expand opportunities, support engagement, growth and discovery, wellness and connectedness."  Recipients will be honored at an annual ceremony on December 18th at the Alumni House.

Rikky Muller flanked by Wang and Grubb

Daniel Grubb and Ruocheng Wang win EE140/240A Keysight design competition

Daniel Grubb (EE140) and Ruocheng Wang (EE240A) have won an Analog Integrated Circuits I class design competition sponsored by Keysight technologies. The students designed low-power and high-speed LCD display drivers for a smartwatch display for the classes taught by Assistant Prof. Rikky Muller. Competition finalists gave presentations to a panel of judges that included three Berkeley alumni who are now Keysight engineers.  Grubb and Wang won hand-held digital multimeters generously donated by Keysight.

Harold Pimentel selected as HHMI Hanna H. Gray Fellow

CS alumnus Harold Pimentel (Ph.D. '16, advisor: Lior Pachter), now a postdoctoral researcher at Stanford, has been chosen as a Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) Hanna H. Gray Fellow.  The goal of the fellows program is to "recruit and retain individuals who are from gender, racial, ethnic, and other groups underrepresented in the life sciences, including those from disadvantaged backgrounds, early in their careers."  Pimentel is researching what happens when cells fail to prune RNA copies of genes. These copies contain interrupting sequences called introns that are usually spliced out before an RNA molecule serves as a template for protein production. Neglecting to trim away introns is sometimes associated with abnormal cellular behavior and disease. Pimentel plans to use computational methods he developed to analyze a vast set of RNAs in healthy and cancerous tissues to discover whether lingering introns play a part in cancer.   He says he will use the $1.4M award to start a new lab.

Stuart Russell's Slaughterbots video gains political traction

In response to the video Slaughterbots, created by Prof. Stuart Russell and Autonomousweapons.org,  San Mateo County Supervisor David Canepa has introduced a resolution to ban autonomous weapons.  If the resolution is adopted, San Mateo County would be the first in the United States to urge Congress and the United Nations to restrict the development of weaponized robotic technology.  Slaughterbots, which shows the damage autonomous drones could cause if they continue to be developed without regulation, went viral when it was released in November.  “As policy makers, for us to catch up with technology we ourselves have to be out in front of it,” said Canepa. “So that’s why we’re working on this issue.”

Arcak and Coogan

Murat Arcak and Sam Coogan win the 2017 IEEE Transactions on Control of Network Systems Outstanding Paper Award

Prof. Murat Arcak, alumnus Samuel Coogan (M.S. '12/Ph.D. '15), and their co-authors on the paper titled “Traffic network control from temporal logic specifications,” have won the 2017 IEEE Transactions on Control of Network Systems Outstanding Paper Award.  The award is presented annually by the IEEE Control Systems Society to recognize an outstanding paper published in the IEEE Transactions on Control Systems Technology.  Judging is based on originality, potential impact on the foundations of network systems, importance and practical significance in applications, and clarity.  Coogan, who is now an assistant professor at UCLA, received the EECS Eli Jury Award in 2016 for "outstanding achievement in the area of systems, communications, control, or signal processing," and the 2014 Leon O. Chua Award for "outstanding achievement in an area of nonlinear science."

EECS advisors at CS Education Day

EECS Departmental Advising staff win 2017 Excellence in Advising Team Award

EECS Center for Student Affairs (CSA) undergraduate advisers Cindy Conners, Charlene Hughes, Carol Marshall, Andrea Mejia Valencia, Nicole McIntyre, Lydia Raya, Michael-David Sasson, and Lily Zhang, have won the UC Berkeley Excellence in Advising 2017 Team Award.  The team award recognizes exceptional performance and innovation in advising on campus and is presented to members of a group who have made a significant positive impact on the students and programs they support. The achievements of the EECS team are particularly impressive in a time of unprecedented growth that saw their advising pool expand to include over 2,850 students.